Bike valet at SLO Farmers Market receives much-needed funds

Bike SLO County’s free bike valet service at the weekly Thursday night Farmers Market in San Luis Obispo has received much-needed financial support from a local developer.

Unlike at other events where it charges organizers for the bike-parking service, the nonprofit organization has not received compensation for providing a bike valet at the Downtown SLO Farmers Market since 2007.

The San Luis Obispo Downtown Association has provided booth space for the bike valet, but Bike SLO County has been spending about $18,000 a year out of its general fund to keep the service going, said Dan Rivoire, executive director of Bike SLO County.

The bike valet program was recently awarded a grant from local development company Coastal Community Builders Inc., which will cover the costs of the bike valet at the market and allow Bike SLO County to do additional outreach to let people know about the free service, Rivoire said. He declined to state the exact amount of the grant.

“For a couple of years now, we’ve been trying to work on finding a solution that’s sustainable because our general fund subsidizing the program is unhealthy,” Rivoire said. “I can’t say it was going to close if we didn’t get this grant, but the hardship to the organization was tremendous.”

The Downtown Association served as lead applicant on the grant, which runs for 12 months. Bike SLO County and the Downtown Association will continue to search for grant opportunities or sponsors to continue offering the free service at the market, said Rivoire and Downtown Association Executive Director Dominic Tartaglia.

“This is a one-time opportunity, and next year we will have to go back out and seek funding to continue providing this essential service at our events,” Tartaglia said. “Any chance we have to reduce traffic congestion, parking problems and encourage healthy lifestyle choices is worth the effort to find a solid sponsor.”

Rivoire said the organization would like to expand the program to other farmers markets around the county.

For more information on the service, go to www.bikeslocounty.org/programs/valet.